Alport syndrome cold cases: Missing mutations identified by exome sequencing and functional analysis

Chiara Chiereghin, Michela Robusto, Antonio Mastrangelo, Pierangela Castorina, Giovanni Montini, Marisa Giani, Stefano Duga, Rosanna Asselta, Giulia Soldà

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alport syndrome (AS) is an inherited progressive renal disease caused by mutations in COL4A3, COL4A4, and COL4A5 genes. Despite simultaneous screening of these genes being widely available, mutation detection still remains incomplete in a non-marginal portion of patients. Here, we applied whole-exome sequencing (WES) in 3 Italian families negative after candidate-gene analyses. In Family 1, we identified a novel heterozygous intronic variant (c.2245-40A>G) -outside the conventionally screened candidate region for diagnosis- potentially disrupting COL4A5 exon29 splicing. Using a minigene-based approach in HEK293 cells we demonstrated that this variant abolishes exon29 branch site, causing exon skipping. Moreover, skewed X-inactivation of the c.2245-40A>G allele correlated with disease severity in heterozygous females. In Family 2, WES highlighted a novel COL4A5 hemizygous missense mutation (p.Gly491Asp), which segregates with the phenotype and impacts on a highly-conserved residue. Finally, in Family 3, we detected a homozygous 24-bp in-frame deletion in COL4A3 exon1 (NM_000091.4:c.30_53del:p.Val11_Leu18del or c.40_63del24:p.Leu14_Leu21del), which is ambiguously annotated in databases, although it corresponds to a recurrent AS mutation. Functional analyses showed that this deletion disrupts COL4A3 signal peptide, possibly altering protein secretion. In conclusion, WES -together with functional studies- was fundamental for molecular diagnosis in 3 AS families, highlighting pathogenic variants that escaped previous screenings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0178630
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Adult
  • Exome
  • Female
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Nephritis, Hereditary
  • Pedigree
  • RNA Splicing
  • Sequence Analysis
  • Young Adult
  • Case Reports
  • Journal Article


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